Lives of Saints - Dionysios the Areopagite Christianity - Books
You have heard that it was said, 'You shall not commit adultery;'                but I tell you that everyone who gazes at a woman to lust after her has committed adultery with her already in his heart.                If your right eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out and throw it away from you. For it is more profitable for you that one of your members should perish, than for your whole body to be cast into Gehenna.                If your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off, and throw it away from you. For it is more profitable for you that one of your members should perish, than for your whole body to be cast into Gehenna.                'It was also said, 'Whoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorce,'                but I tell you that whoever puts away his wife, except for the cause of sexual immorality, makes her an adulteress; and whoever marries her when she is put away commits adultery.                'Again you have heard that it was said to them of old time, 'You shall not make false vows, but shall perform to the Lord your vows,'                but I tell you, don't swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is the throne of God;                nor by the earth, for it is the footstool of his feet; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King.                Neither shall you swear by your head, for you can't make one hair white or black.                But let your 'Yes' be 'Yes' and your 'No' be 'No.' Whatever is more than these is of the evil one.                'You have heard that it was said, 'An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.'*                But I tell you, don't resist him who is evil; but whoever strikes you on your right cheek, turn to him the other also.                If anyone sues you to take away your coat, let him have your cloak also.                Whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two.                Give to him who asks you, and don't turn away him who desires to borrow from you.                'You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor,* and hate your enemy.*'                But I tell you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who mistreat you and persecute you,                that you may be children of your Father who is in heaven.               
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Dionysios the Areopagite
   

This Saint was from Athens, a learned man, and a member of the famous judicial court of Mars Hill (in Greek Aeros Pagos, hence the name Areopagite (see Acts 17:19-34). When Saint Paul preached in Athens, he was one of the first there to believe in Christ, and, according to some, became the first bishop of that city. Others say -- and this may be more probable--that he was the second Bishop of Athens, after Saint Hierotheus, whom Dionysius calls his friend and teacher "after Paul" (On the Divine Names, 3:2). With Saint Hierotheus he was also present at the Dormition of the most holy Theotokos; the Doxasticon of the Aposticha for the service of the Dormition is partly taken from a passage in Chapter III of On the Divine Names. According to ancient tradition, he received a martyr's end (according to some, in Athens itself) about the year 96.

Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone:
Since thou hadst been instructed in uprightness thoroughly and wast vigilant in all things, thou wast clothed with a good conscience as befitteth one holy. Thou didst draw from the Chosen Vessel ineffable mysteries; and having kept the Faith, thou didst finish a like course, O Hieromartyr Dionysios. Intercede with Christ God that our souls be saved.

Kontakion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone:
In spirit, thou dist pass through Heaven's gates, instructed by the great Apostle who attained to the third Heaven's heights, and wast made rich in all knowledge of things beyond speech; and then thou, O Dionysius, didst illuminate them that slumbered in the darkness of their ignorance. Hence we all cry out: Rejoice, O universal Father.

Source: http://www.goarch.org

St. Dionysius the Areopagite was one of the first Athenian disciples of the Apostle Paul (Acts 17:34) and the first bishop of Athens. He was martyred in Paris and is commemorated on October 3. A number of works (including The Divine Names, Mystical Theology, The Celestial Hierarchies, and The Ecclesiastical Hierarchy) have been attributed to him which have influenced basic Orthodox teaching and inspired later Orthodox theologians such as St Maximus the Confessor (7th century). It is generally accepted that these works, in their present form, were probably written in the fifth century, because they seem to have been unknown to earlier Christian centuries, and their style and content indicate that they are later in date. Irrespective of the authorship of these works, the Orthodox world finds no difficulty in regarding them as in the tradition of St Dionysius, and through him, of St Paul the Apostle.

The following is an example of the work attributed to St Dionysius. Here he uses the language of paradox and symbolism to describe God, in terms that we can be understand.

Leave the senses and workings of the intellect, and all that the senses and intellect can perceive, and all that is not and that is; and through unknowing reach out, so far as this is possible, towards oneness with Him who is beyond all being and knowledge. In this way, through an uncompromising, absolute and pure detachment from yourself and from all things, transcending all things and released from all, you will be led upwards towards that radiance of the divine darkness which is beyond all being.
Entering the darkness that surpasses understanding, we shall find ourselves brought, not just to brevity of speech, but to perfect silence and unknowing.

Emptied of all knowledge, man is joined in the highest part of himself, not with any created thing, nor with himself, nor with another, but with the One who is altogether unknowable; and, in knowing nothing, he knows in a manner that surpasses understanding.

St Dionysius uses the symbol of 'darkness' with the meaning expressed in Exodus 20:21 - The people remained at a distance, while Moses approached the thick darkness where God was. God is not called 'darkness', but appears to dwell in darkness because of our inability to grasp His essence or inner-nature. In other words, the darkness is in us, and not in Him.

This is in accordance with St John Chrysostom (407), who states that we can not behold God's nature or essence, but He chooses to manifest Himself in forms that we can comprehend.

However, the different forms under which God is said to have appeared, proves that these manifestations were merely condescensions to the weakness of human nature, which requires something that the eye can see and the ear can hear. They were only manifestations of the Deity adapted to man's capacity; not the Divine Nature itself which is simple, incomposite, and devoid of shape. So, also, when it is said of God the Son that He is 'in the bosom of the Father', when he is described as 'standing', or 'sitting on the right hand of God', these expressions must not be interpreted in too material a sense; they are expressions accommodated to our understanding, to convey an idea of such an intimate union and equality between the two Persons ... is in itself a mystery.

Source: http://www.orthodoxchristian.info

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